Blogs & Videos: Evolution

Facts Matter at The Field Museum

In science, we're constantly striving to make new discoveries and gain a better understanding of life, nature, and the world around us.  Watch as some of our science communicators and experts take us on a tour through the Evolving Planet exhibition, showcasing just a few of many science facts you can find here. At The Field Museum, we're always doing research and learning more, and we invite you to be curious and explore the facts alongside us.

2016 By The Numbers

It's been an exciting year here at The Field Museum: we explored nature and culture all around the globe, continued making discoveries within our collections, and invited visitors to learn with us. To stay in touch and see what we're up to in 2017, sign up for our newsletter at fieldmuseum.org/newsletter and become a member at fieldmuseum.org/membership.  

Eight of the Most Nightmarish Prehistoric Animals

There's been life on earth for about four billion years, and a lot of it has been freaking terrifying. Great job, evolution, we’ll all be having bad dreams tonight. 1. Basilosaurus basilosaurus.png © The Field Museum, GEO86500_166d, Photographer Karen Carr, artist.

Illustration of a black squid with red eyes

Inside the World of the Elusive Vampire Squid

Vampire squids live in a world totally alien to us, and almost qualify as alien themselves. They spend most of their lives floating in the ocean’s deep, dark, midwater depths that don’t have much oxygen. A vampire squid brought onboard a ship by a trawl is black with a huge pointed beak—an infernal appearance if there ever was one. Despite their threatening appearance, studies of this ancient group (we think they had their heyday during the time of the dinosaurs) have improved our knowledge of cephalopod evolution.

An artist's rendering of an prehistoric carnivore called a beardog, with it's mouth open reaching for an insect.

Chihuahua-sized fossil "beardogs" shed new light on evolution of dogs and their relatives

Fossil discoveries don’t always happen out in the field, with scientists armed with pick-axes realizing they’ve found something special. Sometimes, fossils lie in wait in museum collections until the right researcher comes along and realizes there’s something unusual about them. That’s what happened this time, and the fossils in question are prehistoric dog relatives called “beardogs.”

A tiny primate, the Goodman's mouse lemur, held in a person's hand.

Ridiculously cute mouse lemurs hold key to Madagascar’s past

Today, Madagascar is home to a mosaic of different habitats—a lush rainforest in the east and a dry deciduous forest in the west, separated by largely open highlands. But the island off the southeast coast of Africa hasn’t always been like that—a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences announces that these two ecologically different portions of the island were once linked by a patchwork of forested areas. And to figure it out, the scientists analyzed the DNA of some of the cutest animals on earth—mouse lemurs.

An artist's rendering of a small dinosaur being chased through a field by two larger dinosaurs, while two other small dinosaurs run away in the background.

Newly-discovered dinosaur had “T. rex arms” that evolved independently

Scientists still aren’t sure why T. rex had those absurdly small forelimbs, but apparently the look was all the rage in the Late Cretaceous. A newly-discovered dinosaur from Patagonia has similar short, two-fingered claws, even though it’s not closely related to the tyrannosaurs.

An artist's rendering of a Purgatorius unio, a small prehistoric mammal resembling a squirrel.

Mammals began their takeover long before the death of the dinosaurs

It’s a familiar story—the mighty dinosaurs dominated their prehistoric environment, while tiny mammals took a backseat, until the dinosaurs (besides birds) went extinct 66 million years ago, allowing mammals to shine. Just one problem—it’s not true. A new article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports that mammals actually began their massive diversification ten to twenty million years before the extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs.

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